Gwdihŵ and I are considering taking a two year course in shamanic practices* at Gryphon’s Grove, led by local big-name pagan Caroline Kenner. The course is 12 classes a year (approximately one a month) and each class is several hours long. We know people who have taken or are taking these classes, and they all gave us varying degrees of recommendation, though a few mentioned the price as a drawback. They’re expensive classes ($500 each person per year) and we wanted to be absolutely sure that this is our right path before we commit, so we decided to do some divination on the matter.
For the first reading, the question was: How would we benefit from taking Caroline’s shamanism class? Should we take it?
I used my Lord of the Rings Tarot deck, because it was my first and it speaks to me strongest, and here are the cards I pulled:
- King of Coins. Phrase: “Treebeard, the ancient spirit of the earth.”
We have demonstrated effectiveness, and need new challenges. We need new things to learn, to continue on our way.
- The Moon. Phrase: “The power of the enemy seems stronger than it really is.”
Things are not as they seem – they are not as you fear. There are good and deep reasons for taking the class, and Caroline’s wisdom is deep as well. I am taking this to mean that my reservations about “shamanism” as a term are unfounded when it comes to her practice. She doesn’t participate in cultural appropriation.
- Six of Coins. Phrase: “Bilbo finds treasure in Smaug’s lair, but later will come a time for a division of the spoils.”
The classes are expensive, but they are a path to prosperity, too. We must be discerning in our choice of teachers, but Caroline is worthy – our paths and priorities line up.
- Ace of Cups. Phrase: “Galadriel’s mirror shows many things, but wisdom lies in understanding what is shown.”
We will learn to better understand what is shown; we will grow in our wisdom and intuition as they pertains to journey working and shamanic practices.
- Ace of Wands. Phrase: “The fires of Mount Doom create the Master Ring.”
These classes will send us more quickly down our path, and they will have far-reaching consequences. It will initiate a cycle of new growth, forging new things in our life.
- Two of Cups, Rx. Phrase: “Faramir embraces Eowyn as they fall in love.”
Our stable relationship will provide a firm foundation on which we can build a stable practice together, and the shared experience will also reinforce our relationship.
These give a couple of very clear benefits to taking the classes, and generally can be seen as an affirmative answer: Yes! Apply!
So then there’s the next task: writing the application. Caroline asked for a few sentences about why we want to take the classes, and then she reads those and does a tarot reading to see if her helping spirits think we are a good fit for her class at this time. Since she’s doing tarot, we figured a good way to decide what to say is to try and ask our spirits what her spirits need to know! That means: tarot reading, part two.
Here are the second set of pulled cards:
- Page of Cups, Rx. Phrase: “Butterbur serves at his inn, The Prancing Pony. Many people come through its doors.”
We will make new social and other contracts; this is a good opportunity for networking. This will help us learn skills that can serve the community.
- King of Swords. Phrase: “Aragorn is crowned as King of Gondor, and takes the Lady Arwen as his bride and Queen.”
We are a team, and will need to work together on this class, or together on something else.
- Ten of Cups, Rx. Phrase: “Their commitments fulfilled, the Companions sail across the Great Sea to the western Blessed Realm. Cirdan remains in Middle-Earth.”
This will be an important cause of stability in our path to come. This will be a good foundation for us to realize other dreams.
- Five of Coins. Phrase: “The Company of the Ring enter the Underworld Labyrinth of Moria.”
Clarification: Seven of Coins. Phrase: The Company try the mountain pass, but realize they must find another way into Mordor.
This is a good way to get from where we are now to where we want to be, and we will work diligently together, towards that end. (I pulled a clarification card because the first card confused me – my intuition was pointing me in a different direction than the card’s intended meaning. And yep, that was the direction I should have gone in.)
- Nine of Cups, Rx. Phrase: “Bilbo holds his birthday party at Bag End.”
We want to serve the community, and want to bring joy and healing to others. This will help us learn to give the community our attention and focus.
- Six of Wands. Phrase: “In the Battle of the Five Armies, the tide turns against the Army of the Orcs.”
These classes will be an important accomplishment, and a turning point in our lives.
I tried to condense all that into a neat and readable couple of paragraphs, and here’s what I sent to Caroline Kenner:
This is perhaps a rarity in that this is a single application for two applicants, [Gwdihŵ O’Manannán and Réaltán Ni Be Chuille]. We are a husband-wife team that would prefer to take the classes together, and we’ve been training together for a while now, particularly in Reiki and journey workings. Please either accept or reject us as a unit, because if you only accept one we will most likely decline the invitation to enroll.
We wish to enroll in your shamanism courses because we think what we learn from you will be a good foundation for us to build off of as we reach toward other plans and dreams. We believe we have been called to be healers, and we wish to serve the community in this capacity, bringing joy and healing to others. We plan to someday open a healing center/pagan shop, and learning shamanic healing will be an excellent step in that direction. Completing your courses will be an important accomplishment in our journey as healers, and will perhaps become a turning point in our lives. Your classes are an excellent vehicle to take us from where we are now, to where we want to be; because of that we will be inclined to work diligently, and to learn as much as we can from you, the spirits, and our fellow students. Our dream of opening a healing center and pagan shop has community service at its focus, but we will still need to get the word out and find our audience. To that end your courses are also an excellent way for us to network with fellow healers, as we hone our skills together.
We understand that you will do readings to see what your spirit helpers say about whether or not we are a good fit for your class, and we hope that they will see us in a favorable light, because we have consulted our own guides and they have led us here.
Thank you very much for your consideration,
[Gwdihŵ and Réaltán]
Hopefully we are accepted – I will let you know as soon as we do!
*[I have issues with the term “shaman”, but that’s a topic for a later post]